“More brothers-in-arms” – Arras North – Page 86

I always said that “Visiting the Fallen” was likely to be an on-going project, even extending beyond the publication of all three books. New material will always emerge and the website will come in very useful to cover it. There is also the hope that all three books will, at some stage, be reprinted, in which case additional information will be added where appropriate.

A case in point concerns the entry for Lieutenant Duncan BAILLIE, 2/9th Gurkha Rifles, who was killed in action on the 2nd November 1914 near Neuve Chapelle. He is buried at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery. (Plot XXVII.E.34) His brother, Captain Evan Henry Baillie, was killed in action on the 25th September 1915 at Loos. A second brother, Captain Alan La Touche Baillie, was killed in action four days later, also at Loos. Both men were killed serving with the 10th Cameronians, part of the 15th (Scottish) Division. Alan, the youngest of the three brothers, is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery, whilst Evan is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Another group of casualties worth mentioning here are those buried at La Targette British Cemetery in Plot II, Row A, with Gunner Percy Richard ALLABY . Readers may remember that I commented on the family inscription at the base of his headstone which reads: “Do what you can for the rest.” (Arras North – Page 133) I have since been able to dig into the unit’s war diary to discover the circumstances of his death and that of the four other men who died with him. I suggested that they were almost certainly victims of enemy shell fire, which turns out to have been the case. On the night of the 9th/10th May 1917, while the men were stacking ammunition (shells) near gun pits belonging to the 22nd Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, an enemy shell, described as being one of high calibre, struck a brick wall. Not only did the shell explode, the party were also showered by fragments of brick causing a number of casualties.

ALLABY and Gunner Michael Andrew HARPELL were mortally wounded in the incident and Gunners Percy BEACH, Herbert Arnold ROBERTSON, and almost certainly Driver Mason Walter BOLTON, died from their wounds later that day or the following day. Several other casualties survived. It appears quite likely that ALLABY may also have had a brother who served during the war. ALLABY’s mother, Eva, is shown living in Charlotte Street, St. John West, New Brunswick. Although the address is different, the mother of Driver James Spurgeon Allaby, is also shown living in St. John, New Brunswick. He served with the 4th Siege Battery, Canadian Artillery. She may well have moved to a new address after the death of her husband, the Reverend E.A. Allaby, who is shown as joint next-of-kin on Percy’s army record, but not on James’s.

Finally, two brothers from Montreal who were killed the same day, the 24t September 1917, should have been included in “Arras North”. Private Henri DENIS and Signaller Albert DENIS are buried next to each other in Thelus Military Cemetery. (Plot I.E.4 and 5) Unfortunately, this cemetery was left out of “Arras North”, even though I had researched it thoroughly and had visited it more than once while writing the book. After consultation with my editorial team, Thelus Military Cemetery will be included, probably as an appendix to “Arras Memorials” when it comes out later this year. The omission was spotted during the proof reading stage, but it seems to have slipped through the net after that. I should have noticed it  during the indexing, but these things happen. The responsibility ultimately lies with me. So, sincere apologies to all my readers, and at least I have the opportunity to rectify the omission. Thelus Communal Cemetery and Bailleul-Sir-Berthoult Communal Cemetery will also form part of the same appendix, though both of these are likely to be of peripheral interest to most readers.